About a week ago, I saw a reference to what could be a very interesting product. In fact, it was a product I thought would be cool before I knew anyone had actually done it. Trackstick is a GPS device with no display. It just tracks where you have gone over the course of weeks and months. When I carry a camera around, this can be incredibly useful to automatically geotag photos. Unfortunately the website is pretty basic. Usually I would expect to see a list of places I could buy a device like this. At the bottom of the page though, there was a link to request a retail location near where ever you are. I was going to be in New York City for a week so I requested the name of a dealer in New York City:
Where can I buy this? I live in Amsterdam now but I will be in New York City all next week.
That was on the Friday before I left. On Tuesday, I received a response from a dealer in Luxembourg. While thats great for when I am home in Amsterdam, I specifically requested a retailer in New York City. When I asked for that information from him, he suggested I contact Trackstick sales for more info. I thought I already had, but this time I replied to the actual email address he gave me for Andreana: firstname.lastname@example.org. And thats where things started to get interesting. I sent Andreana the following, incredibly simple email:
Is there a reseller in the nyc area?
I thought that would be an easy one to answer, and the response on Thursday was not quite what I was hoping for:
WE have resellers all over the world. Your best bet is to purchase in the Netherlands or online. We have an online dealer www.googleearthstore.com
This should have been my first indication that I should give up and not try to find a retailer and instead buy online. I had the address of a store in Luxembourg and when I return I could buy it there, but I really wanted to be able to walk into a store in New York and buy the thing right then and there. I persisted anyway:
But I am in nyc now. If there is a reseller here I will get it. I will not be home in nl for a while.
This is mostly true. With so much travel, I am pretty busy when I am home so its just far more convenient to make these types of purchases while I am away. That email got no response. Why did this have to be so difficult. As the original request asked, I just wanted to find a store in New York City. So on Saturday, more than a full week after my original query and a couple of days before I was leaving the US I sent the following….maybe I went a bit far with this one, but when dealing with someone who is obviously incompetent, its hard to restrain myself.
I was here for a week and was hoping to get a name of a reseller in the US, specifically New York. Not sure why that was difficult. But now I am leaving. Could you give me a reseller in my next two destinations: Dubai and Sydney Australia. Is there an online list of resellers? I can’t imagine the average consumer being willing to jump through so many hoops just to find out where to buy a product.
Yeah, that last line was a bit much, but it’s true, I can’t imagine the average consumer being willing to go through all this. But then I am not the average consumer. The average person who buys a product like this can buy online and have it shipped to their address because their address is pretty constant. I am on the move a lot and want to buy in a bricks and mortar store. But I don’t think I was prepared for what I got back from Trackstick:
I have told you you can purchase at www.googleearthstore.com If you don’t like my choice, google TRackstick and you should be able to find our resellers all over the world.
Andy obviously had stronger thoughts brewing in her head so she sent another message almost immediately after that:
We do not know where all of our resellers are located. they are all over the world. If I knew every single store, person, online website that sold the Trackstick, that would be a waste of time.
I have told you where to purchase the TRackstick, you just don’t want to purchase it from Googleearthstore.
And, if you were savvy on the Internet, youwould know all you have to do is google Trackstick and all of our resellers will come up. You are the one who has wasted your own time
Wow!!! So, this tells me quite a bit. They are a pretty small operation and are really not sure how they are selling their own product. They are excited that their product is selling in a few outlets but aren’t really sure how to grow the operation. Their sales pipeline is a bit vague which may be their downfall over the next few months. I should assume that if I buy the product, I should not expect the organization to even exist a few months down the road and support may be difficult. They did tell me about an online store but they waited until Thursday to tell me about that. With only a single shipping day left before I would head home, buying online from California was no longer an option. Had they told me that on the day I actually requested the info, that might have been possible. But I followed Andy’s advice and looked on Google. Yeah, right. Go ahead, try it: a couple of links to the trackstick page, a link to the wonderful ThinkGeek, some other online stores, several review sites, but nothing for several pages on any bricks and mortar retailers where I can walk in and buy the product directly.
So after a weeks worth of emails, I am no closer to finding a place that sells the Trackstick. At least I have the address of a store in Luxembourg. The Trackstick device itself looks incredibly cool. Unfortunately it costs nearly 200 USD more in Europe vs buying in the US due to the extremely weak dollar (322 Euro = 432 USD, 269 USD for the same device on GoogleEarthStore.com). If only Andy told me that buying online was the only option a week ago rather than waiting and dancing around the answer.
I probably will buy this device eventually. I hope the company will be around long enough for that to happen. I think they could sell something like this to every prosumer photographer on the planet. In fact, if I had any say in the company, I would make a modest investment in the website to make it easier to get the information I needed and to make the company look more professional. I would start talking to some of the major photography stores and outdoor stores in the US like B&H, REI, and others to get them to sell the product. And I would fire some of the dead weight at the company who are just dragging them down. I think you could imagine who my first pick would be…